Vol. XL No. 44 October 30, 2016

Sugarcane Growers will Hold Protest Dharna before Parliament on Nov 25

N K Shukla

THE All India Co-ordination Committee of Sugarcane growers met at Sundarayya Vigyan Kendram, Hyderabad in September last week. Representatives from ten states (Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Bihar, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand) participated in this meeting. The meeting began with opening remarks by AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah,  S Malla Reddy presided over the meeting. The report was presented by N K Shukla, convenor and supplemented by Vijoo Krishnan, co-convenor. Hannan Mollah dealt with increasing crisis in agrarian sector due to neo-liberal economic policies leading to farmers suicide whose numbers  are swelling day by day. The farmers are neither getting cheap imputes nor MSP based on recommendation of Dr Swaminathan Commission (C2+50 percent).  Credit facilities are being squeezed day by day forcing the farmers to fall into the trap of money lenders. Crops are not covered by proper crop insurance scheme, land reforms are not implemented, rather farmers’ lands are forcibly acquired by the government for projects or for corporates. FDI is now permitted in agriculture sector. In this situation sugarcane farmers alongwith all other peasantry and Sugar Mills’ employees have to fight to save their interests.

He also drew the attention towards continuous attempts by the BJP/RSS supporters to communally divide the people. He appealed for maximum vigilance as to maintain secular unity and isolate the communal and casteist forces.

He also explained decision of the All India Kisan Sabha to organise four Kisan Sagharsh Jathas from four corners of the country, which will culminate in the huge farmers rally at Delhi on November24. He appealed to sugarcane growers to participate in large numbers in this rally.

The report presented by convenor and co-convenor noted the present pathetic condition of sugarcane growers. Mills are not ready to pay even the actual production cost of sugarcane, which comes to not less than Rs 350 per quintal. Therefore, we are demanding minimum price as Rs 400 per quintal. The central government has announced only Rs 230 per quintal as FRP (fair and remunerative price) which is neither ‘fair’ nor ‘remunerative’.  And then different state governments add only Rs 40- 50 as SAP. In this situation, in almost all the states, sugarcane growers are getting only Rs 260 to 285 per quintal. And even that price is also not paid by mill owners at the end of season by majority of mills. Although the claim is made by the central government that 95 percent arrears have been cleared to farmers, but approximately ten thousand crores of rupees are still pending with the mills.

Sugar mills are allowed to import raw sugar and also allowed to increase the price of sugar in open market. Mills are also not asked by the government to pay to the farmers the share from the sale of by-products like baggas, presmud and ethanol. A good number of mills in different states are closed particularly in UP,MP and Bihar, depriving the farmers of  those areas from a major cash crop. The government is permitting many private mills to sell the land and huge property of the closed mills. Some state governments on their own are also selling co-operative and public sector mills at throw-away prices. The thrust for privatisation is going on. Provisions of 1966 Sugar Control Act have been diluted giving free hand to the mill owners to exploit the farmers at their sweet will.

In this situation the meeting decided to organise a Mahadharna before parliament on November 25, demanding-

·         Rs 400 per quintal (4000 per ton) minimum price of sugarcane. (FRP)

·         All the pending arrears be cleared before the beginning of this season.

·         Every year the due price of sugarcane be paid before the end of season according to 1966 Sugar Control Act.

·         Sugarcane farmers be paid the share of sale of different by-products like baggas, presmud and ethanol in proportion to the weightage of sugarcane supplied to the mills.

·         No to privatisation and no to selling of sugar mills. Open all the closed mills immediately. Protect co-operative and public sector mills.

·         No FDI in Agriculture

The meeting also decided to organise sugarcane farmers in all the regions where  sugar mills are working . These organisations will be affiliated to state kisan sabhas.

The meeting also decided to co-ordinate with other like minded organisations, particularly sugar mill workers and employees unions.

Sugarcane growers in large numbers will participate in Kisan Sangharsh Jathas and will also join the November 24 Kisan Rally at Delhi.

And then they will participate in Mahadharna on November 25 before the parliament.

The meeting was preceded by a Seminar on the “Problems faced by sugarcane growers and solutions“on 23rd Sept.

Main speakers in this seminar included Hannan Mollah, NK Shukla, Vijoo Krishnan, AIKS Vice President S.Malla Reddy,  Retd. Judge Mr Chandra Kumar and Telengana State Rayatu Sangam Secretary Chandra Reddy. Ram Babu presided over the seminar.